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Cover Story

Color Your World with McCully’s Exotic Flavors

By Dining Out Team Photos By Anthony Consillio
June 28, 2015

Getting a passport to explore the world may seem like a farfetched dream to many, but in reality, it can be as easy as visiting McCully Shopping Center. On a daily basis, the outdoor commercial structure allows guests to take their taste buds on a flavorful excursion to mingle with the cuisines of Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and beyond. And once a year, a single lucky winner is given the chance to actually travel to an exotic destination through the center’s A World of Cuisines promotion. Either way, the enticing journey starts with a scrumptious visit to this complex’s myriad of restaurants.

McCully Shopping Center, which is owned by M Pocket Corporation, has long served as Honolulu’s kamaaina-friendly destination for a wide range of services, from beauty and retail needs to niche specialties. Its premier draw, though, remains its food-service providers, which today make up more than half of the center’s merchants. You’ll find old-timers like Fook Yuen Chinese Seafood Restaurant, the staple tenant that has been open since the center debuted in August 1986, as well as newer dining spots such as Hot Pot Heaven, Regal Diner, Pho 777 Vietnamese Restaurant and Yotteko-Ya.

During July, the shopping center invites patrons to indulge in this well-rounded array of fare through its monthlong A World of Cuisines celebration. “Our goal is to bring people here to experience all the different restaurants that we have. We have such a diverse amount of cuisines, and we can appease anybody’s palate,” says the center’s marketing director Terri Hansen-Shon.

Make the first stop on this exciting culinary journey Curry House CoCo Ichibanya, where locals and college students may often be found getting their fix of affordable and mesmerizing Japanese-style curry. Part of a Japan-based chain of eateries, Curry House’s magnetic pull draws in curry-fanatics everywhere, as more than 90 percent of its menu items feature its signature savory and golden specialty. “Our curry has a beef base, so it’s strong in flavor. It’s not bland at all, and it always has a pop when you eat it,” describes general manager Kevin Wakisaka.

Most entrees consist of a velvety blanket of curry placed alongside a bed of rice and customers’ choice of customizable toppings. Manager Gary Kaneshiro recommends Fried Chicken with Gyoza ($8.90), one of the most popular combination plates, as well as the lighter Stewed Chicken with Spinach ($8.05). For a bit of local comfort, he suggests Chicken Cutlet ($7.20), offering crisp strips of chicken katsu that so harmoniously blend with the curry. Wakisaka adds that customers can count on the eatery’s curry to be consistently rich every time, and first-timers are urged to bring balance to their meals with the yummy addition of fukujinzuke (pickled vegetables) on the side.

After sampling the delectable curry traditions of Japan, patrons may revel in a different wave of spices nearby at Phuket Thai, where scents of lemongrass and chilies lure in diners. Five Southeast Asian-style curries light up this eatery’s menu of traditional Thailand specialties, including best-selling green curry nuanced with Thai basil and coconut milk. Rotating lunch specials offer a little bit of everything for a reasonable price, and Crispy Chicken with Garlic Mixed Veggies ($11.25 lunch special) is no exception. It’s served with rice and heaping portions of crunchy meat and saucy vegetables. Noodle dishes are popular at the eatery as well, including Thai Fried Noodles (prices vary), or Paht Thai, which excites with bean sprouts, carrots, green onions and choice of protein in a vivaciously tangy sauce.

Enjoying A World of Cuisines calls for stopping into at least one of McCully Shopping Center’s havens of sweet treats. When visiting Coffee or Tea?, patrons actually don’t have to choose between the two, as there are approximately 100 beverages available. The Taiwanese cafe presents everything from flavored ice teas and smoothies to boba-filled milk tea and espresso. One of its signature drinks is Tapioca Pearl Milk Tea ($3.75 regular, $4.75 jumbo), a creamy concoction that sings with quality, as real black-tea leaves and tapioca pearls are prepared fresh daily for the beverage. Coffee or Tea? also is home to a selection of desserts, the favorite of which is Taiwan-style No. 1 Shaved Ice ($6), bursting with azuki beans, boba, condensed milk and green tea ice cream.

Though each dining nook at McCully Shopping Center brings something different to the table, they all share the same personalized service. “That’s one thing I really love about the center: The restaurants really do cater to the old-school customer service,” says Hansen-Shon.

Every year since the shopping center first offered its A World of Cuisines promotion in 2007, it has sent one fortunate victor on an unforgettable vacation. Past destinations have included China, Japan, Canada, and Napa Valley, Calif., and this year, the winning individual will be awarded a four-night trip for two to Fiji. Presented in partnership with Clear Channel radio station and Ultimate Vacations, the getaway presents roundtrip airfare on Fiji Airways and accommodations at InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, a modern five-star luxury hotel outfitted with a private championship golf course.

To enter to win, simply drop off an entry form at any McCully Shopping Center merchant. Entry forms are available online at mccullysc.com, Facebook and Twitter; within Honolulu Star-Advertiser; and at shops within the center.

For McCully Shopping Center, A World of Cuisines is one way to offer an incredible experience to its loyal patrons. “We like to cater to our local clientele,” says Hansen-Shon. “They really support us, so that’s why we want to give away a trip to somewhere in the world because a lot of people in Hawaii don’t get to travel outside too often.”

McCully Shopping Center

1960 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu
Mccullysc.com